CliffyB, lead designer of the original Gears of War trilogy, shares his thoughts on Epic selling the franchise to Microsoft.
A recent interview with Cliff “CliffyB” Bleszinski offered insight into the legendary game designer’s feelings about the sale of Epic Games Gears of War. Microsoft bought the franchise in 2014 and at that time Gears of War changed from a third-party exclusive to a Microsoft in-house product. Bleszinski had left Epic Games two years earlier to take a break from game development, but recently shared his thoughts on Epic Games’ sale of the franchise that helped turn it into a global success.
The original idea for Gears of War came out of development for Unreal Wara first-person shooter by Epic Games Fantastic universe, designed by Bleszinski in the early 2000s. Influenced by the recent success of Resident Evil 4 and impressive graphics available in the Unreal 3 engine, Bleszinski decided to make a cover-based third-person shooter as he wanted to show off the detailed character models. While scenic considerations drove the original design forward, Bleszinski remains proud Gears of War story and specifically the decisions made around Dom and Maria.
During a recent episode of IGN’s Unfiltered web show, Bleszinski shared his thoughts on why he thinks Epic Games made the sale to Microsoft. In Bleszinski’s opinion, once he, producer Rod Ferguson, and gameplay designer Lee Perry left Epic Games, the studio “didn’t know what to do with the franchise.” According to Bleszinski, Epic Games hadn’t released a game in a while, and despite Unreal Engine selling well, the developer might have needed an influx of cash. Fortnite it was still years away and the Epic Games Store was even further away from becoming a reality.
After selling it Gears of War at Microsoft, Bleszinski shared that Xbox head Phil Spencer was the only one who called him. Bleszinski praises Phil Spencer as a “gentleman and scholar” saying “that’s just what Phil is”. Bleszinski had been out of the game industry for two years when the sale to Microsoft went through. Gears of War 3 it was the last franchise that Bleszinski worked on as part of Epic games. During his interview, Bleszinski was asked about his feelings about the Coalition being developed Gears titles and said that while The Coalition had players choose which characters would live or die, Epic Games focused on the fates of Dom and Maria.
Since Epic Games was sold Gears of War at Microsoft, the studio has moved on to develop, perhaps with cash from the sale according to Bleszinski, one of the biggest games in history with Fortnite. Bleszinski returned to game development in late 2015 with Boss Key Productions, which released the ill-fated Outlaws in 2017. His failure Outlaws led to the closure of Boss Key Productions in 2019. Bleszinski recently published his autobiography, Control Freak: My Epic Adventure Video game creation.
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